Manulife Asset Management has appointed Peter Warnes to the newly created role of international head of its global portfolio solutions group (PSG), in a move aimed at strengthening its multi-asset capabilities.

Based in Hong Kong, he is responsible for that business for markets outside North America and is tasked with developing the firm’s asset allocation solutions.

Warnes reports to Michael Dommermuth, Hong Kong-based president of asset management for international, and Barry Evans, Boston-based CIO of global asset allocation.

Demand for asset allocation strategies is growing as the region’s population ages and retirement provision shifts from governments to individuals, said Dommermuth. He sees multi-asset products gaining popularity with retail investors seeking risk-adjusted returns in a low-interest-rate environment, and institutions seeking tailored asset allocations to meet long-term liabilities.

This has been borne out in the past couple of years, as flows into multi-asset strategies have grown substantially, with investors increasingly seeking more stable and diversified portfolios, often under absolute-return mandates. For example, Thailand’s $22 billion Government Pension Fund awarded its first multi-asset mandate this year, as reported.

As of June 30, Manulife AM managed $5.9 billion in asset allocation strategies in Asia. Some 17% of the firm’s AUM of $281 billion is managed in Asia.

The firm launched its international multi-asset capabilities in May 2012, appointing Sarah Lu as head of asset allocation for Asia based in Hong Kong. The team grew further last year, with Ricky Chau from Axa added as a director and Michelle Ng arriving from Mercer in a newly created role as portfolio specialist responsible for asset allocation.

Manulife AM offers multi-asset solutions in Asia including target-date, target-return and target-income funds, alternatives and international asset allocation portfolios.

Warnes joined from JP Morgan Asset Management, where he managed global equity and multi-asset investment products. His representative licence at the US firm expired on July 2. A spokesman for JP Morgan said he will not be replaced and that his responsibilities would be absorbed into the firm’s global multi-asset group.

Before that, Warnes worked at US fund house Invesco. He started his career at Sun Alliance Investment Management in London.

His appointment comes after Kai Sotorp joined Manulife AM in June to run its global wealth and asset management business. He had been head of UBS Global Asset Management’s Asia-Pacific business.